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AmCham complains of poor English skills of Taiwanese workers

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Joined: 27 May 2008
Posts: 275

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:10 pm    Post subject: AmCham complains of poor English skills of Taiwanese workers Reply with quote

Poor English proficiency among Taiwanese workers in general creates hiring difficulties for American companies in Taiwan, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei said Thursday.

Despite offering high salaries, many American companies based in Taiwan face problems finding suitable people to fill vacancies that require English language skills, AmCham Chairman Thomas Fann said in a news conference.

In some cases, the hiring process can take as long as a year, which causes severe damage to the companies in question, Fann said.

I'm surprised that AmCham are surprised that Taiwanese graduates can't speak English. Many of the students that attend universities in Taiwan don't even have a firm grasp of their own language, let alone a second language! Why not import Filipinos to do the job? Their English skills are the best in Asia.
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Joined: 15 Feb 2010
Posts: 90
Location: Tainan, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While it doesn't really offer more details on this topic, the AmCham report is quite interesting. Unless they change the link, you can find the report (with summary slides) here:

I think it should be noted that only 52% of AmCham's member businesses responded to their survey, so I would not consider this to be completely reliable. Unless I am misinterpreting the report's charts, of that 52%, only about 60% gave a negative rating to the English language skills of Taiwanese workers.

I mostly teach adults now, many of whom study English for career reasons. Their biggest complaint is that they have no native speakers to interact with on a regular basis. However, when I ask if they practice speaking English with their colleagues, most say they do not. The reasons vary.

In my opinion, a large part of the problem is the over-emphasis of standardized tests. As a result, a lot of the teaching in Taiwan focuses on teaching for the test (mainly GEPT and TOEIC). I have met many students who scored high on these tests but are barely fluent. The result of this emphasis is that a) students spend more time studying grammar rules than they do actually speaking, b) they become terrified of speaking lest they make a grammar faux pas. It is unfortunate. I spend a lot of time encouraging students to speak and building confidence in their ability.
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